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  5. Want a Truly Clean Home? It’s All About Air Quality.
  • Want a Truly Clean Home? It’s All About Air Quality.

    Indoor air pollution could bring health risks to you and your family.

    You may have the cleanest looking and freshest smelling home on the block, but if you’re not paying attention to the quality of your indoor air, your family may still be exposed to air pollution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns that indoor air quality can be adversely affected when pollution sources release gases or particles into the air in your home. So what can we do to tackle this invisible risk? Read on!

    First things first: Arm yourself by knowing the key culprits that can affect your home’s indoor air quality. The American Lung Association reports that a variety of substances can have a negative effect on the air we breathe. Could any of these be lurking in your home?

    • Biological Pollutants

      Composed of living things (or produced by living things), common biological pollutants include mold, dust mites, pet dander, cockroach droppings or their body parts, rodents, insects, viruses and bacteria.

    • Secondhand Smoke

      Created when tobacco is burned in cigarettes, cigars and pipes, secondhand smoke can worsen asthma symptoms and can increase the incidence of bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, ear infections and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in children.

    • Combustion Pollutants

      Gases or airborne particles created by burning materials such as wood, oil, gas, kerosene and coal, common combustible pollutants can come from gas stoves, fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, water heaters and clothes dryers.

    • Radon

      A radioactive gas that occurs naturally, radon can seep into your home through cracks in the foundation or walls that are in contact with the soil, with health consequences from long-term exposure.

    • Asbestos

      A mineral fiber desirable for its strength and heat-resistant properties, asbestos is known to cause lung cancer and other serious lung conditions. Common sources of asbestos in the home are in roofing shingles, ceiling tiles and various heat-resistant fabrics, coatings and packaging.

    • Chemical Pollutants

      A significant source of formaldehyde in the home comes from pressed-wood products made with urea-formaldehyde (UF) resin, such as particle board, hardwood plywood paneling and medium-density fiberboard used in furniture, cabinetry, sub-flooring, paneling and shelving. Numerous other harsh chemicals are used in everyday cleaning products, paints, hobby glues and solvents, pool and garden chemicals, personal care products and standard air fresheners.

      The truth is, we may come into contact with dozens of pollutants before we even have our first cup of coffee, but take heart—here are three strategies for reducing the pollutants in your home. Take these simple steps, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a healthier environment for you and your family.

    • 1. Stop pollution sources in their tracks.

      • Run kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to remove odors and prevent moist conditions that can encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Vent fans to the outside whenever possible.
      • For your next home improvement project, use low VOC paint to reduce the level of toxic off-gassing from the drying paint.
      • Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent black mold buildup, which can spread onto the roof, siding and, eventually, into interior walls.
    • 2. Boost your home’s ventilation.

      • Improve air circulation in the crawl space under your home to prevent the growth of toxic mold or rot. Ensure that enclosed crawl spaces have adequate air vents and that both open and enclosed crawl spaces have ventilation fans to improve air circulation.
      • Keep humidity levels in your home at 30 to 50 percent to prevent moist conditions that can lead to unhealthy mold and mildew. (An easy way to keep tabs on humidity levels is with a hygrometer, available at hardware stores.)
      • For new construction, make sure that your home has sufficient cold air returns. Also, place exterior landscaping far enough away from the home to allow sufficient airflow along the foundation when plants are full-grown.
    • 3. Reduce air impurities with the right filtration.

      • Install a Filtrete™ Healthy Living Filter, which uses exclusive Filtrete Brand 3-in-1 technology from 3M to pull in and trap unwanted particles and pollutants, such as dust, pollen, dust mites and pet dander, while letting cleaner airflow through. Remember to replace your filter at least every three months.
      • Use your heating and cooling system system as a whole-house air purifier by running it on the fan setting when it is not being used for heating or cooling.
      • Exploit the natural filtration properties of houseplants. They create oxygen by absorbing carbon dioxide along with benzene, formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals. Plants such as English ivy, spider plant, philodendron, mum, rubber plant and weeping fig are common houseplants recognized for their filtering abilities.